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Bullriding event kicks off at Freedom Hall

Amanda Marsh • Feb 24, 2012 at 4:09 PM

About 60 buckin’ bulls will be hauled into Freedom Hall Civic Center this weekend for the PBR Touring Pro Division Bullriding competition.

Doors open at 7 tonight and Saturday, and the show starts at 8.

“This event is for anyone age 8 to 80,” said E.C. Hunt, event promoter and stock contractor with PBR. “It’s a family sport. We’ll have a funny man in the arena.”

The PBR is the elite bullriding association in the country, Hunt said. Each night, about 40 riders from the U.S., Brazil and Australia will test their luck and stamina on one of the 1,500 to 1,800 pound bulls.

Big name riders include Australian Ben Jones and Colby Yates of Forth Worth, Texas, who won the $250,000 top prize in the Dallas Iron Man last year.

“We’ve got some of the best,” Hunt said.

About $10,000 worth of prize money will be up for grabs this weekend, along with plenty of points to help riders qualify for the PBR finals in Las Vegas this October.

“The winner will win about $5,000 and that’s great for eight seconds of work,” Hunt said.

Whichever rider draws “Movin’ On” this weekend may be at an advantage. Hunt says he’s an outstanding 1,600-pound bull who will get someone a lot of money and a lot of points.

Regardless of the track record of “Movin’ On” or any of the other bulls, it’s a risky sport that forces riders to “put their lives in the Lord’s hands,” Hunt said.

Getting mentally prepared is the key to having a successful ride, Hunt said. Working out doesn’t hurt either, because any excess weight can put a rider over the head of a bull in less than a second.

The chance of danger and the possibility of a rider finding himself at the wrong end of a bull is what draws the fans. This weekend marks the 17th year the PBR has made a stop at Freedom Hall and Hunt said it’s one of their favorite bullriding destinations due to the excitement from Johnson City fans.

“People up here are the best fans, and I’m not just saying this,” Hunt said. “They have a big time. They hoop and holler. Some places you go the fans are humdrum, but not here, they love it.”

There’s not a bad seat in the house and Hunt said the atmosphere is always great.

“This is one of the best events we have all year long,” he said. “This is just like coming home when you come to Johnson City.”

PBR Touring Pro Division Bullriding tickets for adults and children are $32 for reserved seats, general admission lower level seats are $23 and the upper level general admission seats are $18 each. Children age 2 and under will be admitted free. The parking fee is included in the ticket price.

For more information or to reserve tickets, call the Freedom Hall box office at 461-4884. More information about the riders and bulls is also available at www.pbr.com.

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